2024 Annual Sessions

“JOY”

Wednesday, June 12 through Sunday, June 16, 2024
Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana

With joy we return to the Earlham College campus for our 2024 annual sessions. The return to the familiar and beloved location was part of the inspiration for this year’s theme: Joy! As our committee labored together to discern the theme, we worried about emphasizing celebration in the midst of so much suffering, but we came to recognize that joy fuels the hope and strength we need to live in a world torn by war, catastrophe, authoritarianism, and the daily struggles of loneliness, wavering faith, illness and more. In the words of Friend Elise Boulding “The real difference between happiness and joy is that one is grounded in this world, the other in eternity. Happiness cannot encompass suffering and evil. Joy can.”

We encourage you to make plans to attend. Vitality comes to us as we worship, share, listen, pray, laugh, cry and (of course!) eat together. YOUNG ADULT Friends are planning to have programming this year! Our Children’s and Youth programs always provides great experiences for those 18 and under. There will be Zoom options for those who wish to remain virtual.

Look below for more information on registration, programs, schedules, and lots of other things to get you informed and excited. See you in Richmond!

Registration

Registration is still open for virtual attenders: 

NOTE: General registration for in-person attendance has ended. For exceptions, outstanding circumstances and alternatives, please contact the OVYM Registrar at registrar@ovym.org.

On-Site Registration Confirmation.  As you arrive at Earlham College, keep your eyes open for the “OVYM” directional yard signs on side of road. These will direct you to the parking lot for the Mills Dorm. From there you will also find “friendly” advice to get to Runyon Center where we register! Receive ID badge, pick up your keys, complete payment with the Registrar. There will be a clear schedule of times when the Registration will have a person available to help those who arrive later than Wednesday 1pm to 6pm.

Zoom Info.  All business sessions will be offered as hybrid. The Living Witness and two workshops will also be hybrid. We will broadcast the plenaries, opening worship, Memorial Meeting, and closing worship. We hope to organize a morning worship sharing for Zoom only participants.

The Zoom schedule can be found here.

Plenary Sessions

John Watts

Jon Watts

Thursday June 13th
The World is Changing.
How Can Quakers Show Up With Joy, Courage, and Vision?

Jon Watts is a Quaker media creator and spiritual entrepreneur. As a songwriter, Jon toured the world sharing stories of the Early Friends and his own spiritual journey growing up Quaker and attending the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program at Guilford College.

Jon’s unique success promoting his music in the early days of YouTube led him to design and launch the QuakerSpeak YouTube channel, for which he spent six years traveling, interviewing Friends, and publishing a video every week. In 2021, Jon embarked on a new journey: envisioning a future for Quakers and online media. Jon is a member of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, which holds his ministry under its care.

In the early days of YouTube, Jon Watts posted a video that got shared by Quakers around the world. It was 2009 and the term "viral video" hadn't yet been coined... but that didn't stop 130,000 people from watching Jon's video and arguing with one another about theology in the comment section. A light bulb went off for Jon in that moment, and it has informed his work ever since. Since then there millions of views of Quakers speaking!

Come hear about Jon's journey and join us as we ask the big questions about Quakerism in the 21st century: What does the future hold for Friends? Are Quakers relevant in the age of the internet? What can we learn from our spiritual ancestors that informs how to approach the modern era? How can we support the next generation of Friends, even as the world changes rapidly around us?

quakerpodcast.com  |  dailyquaker.com

 

Reverend Rhetta Morgan

Friday June 14th
Singing Our Sacred JoyFire!

Reverend Rhetta Morgan is a singing healer, facilitator, and interfaith minister, living and working in the Philadelphia area.

Rev. Rhetta’s work encompasses the intersections of spirituality, creativity and activism, all rooted in an intention to contribute to bringing about a more just world. Among many rich offerings, a few high-lights are leading The Ecclesia Fortify Circle, a group that supports activists to develop spiritual practices and recently returning from South Africa, working as facilitator and healer with Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity. She is currently Artist in Residence at Pendle Hill.

Singing Our Sacred JoyFire!

It could be that we are all glorious dormancies of God’s everlasting love. It could be just the right time for us to stretch together into bolder, more imaginative, versions of ourselves. My offering is a joy-filled testimony. It's about tapping into the eternal stream of joy that all of creation is built on.

I’ll share my story, which was not joy filled but joy laid dormant, revealing powerful glimpses of the yet to be throughout my joy gestation. I will sing of our expanded beauty and invite you to join me.

In the face of the global swelling of fear, division, violence, and despair, let’s tune into our own and each other’s hurting. And in the mending, we can build choruses of declaration through songs known and new. And raise JOYFIRE as resistance, as spiritual practice, as connection, as fun, as healing, and as a sacred tool in the face of all that is emerging.

reverendrhetta.com  |  patreon.com/ReverendRhetta

Thursday Living Witness: Marti Matthews

Marti Matthews

Marti Matthews found her way to Evanston Monthly Meeting of Friends in 1979, having squeezed every good thing she could out of Catholicism. She was joyfully active in Illinois Yearly Meeting and the Chicago area Friends. In 2015, Marti moved to Indianapolis to be near her daughter and two grandchildren.

Marti has been an ardent seeker all her life. Spirit has tested her and fed her and led her, zigging and zagging toward understanding, inspiration, and healing. Under the leadings of Spirit, Marti authored the book Pain: The Challenge and the Gift, guided by Tom Mullen and a scholarship at Earlham School of Religion. Marti continues to write and learn, always supervised by the limits of a severe back curvature. By changing and changing (to her, the better word for “obeying”) – Marti remains joyful.

martimatthews.com

Arriving on Campus

Here is a map explaining where Friends can plan to arrive and where they can park. You approach Earlham College on National Road, U.S. 40. Look for “OVYM” directional signs. Turn south on College Ave. Two blocks turn right at OVYM sign SW G Street onto campus. You will soon be in the parking lot.

What to Bring to OVYM

When you come to Earlham College, whether you stay in the dorms or commute from your home, you can bring several things for comfort and reducing waste:

  • Warm layers! This is your annual reminder that most of us will feel cold.
  • Reusable cup for coffee or tea and a water bottle
  • Cloth napkin
  • Musical instrument or props to share your gifts(?) at Saturday’s variety show

Friends staying in the dorms, should be sure to pack anything needed to be comfortable in a bare room:

  • Extra long sheets, blankets or a sleeping bag, and a pillow
  • Towels and soap
  • Chargers for your devices

Optional items for comfort include a mattress pad (reduces noise from the plastic coating on the mattress); bedside lamp; bath mat; trash bag or wastebasket.

We have access to the kitchens, but please label any food items you bring. If you expect to prepare your own meals, bring everything you need beyond a sink, stove, refrigerator, and countertop: pots and pans, knives, cutting board, and cooking utensils; cooking oil, salt, and all ingredients; cleaning supplies including soap, dishcloth, and dishtowel.

From the time you move in on Wednesday, through Friday afternoon, Earlham staff may be available to make repairs in your room. In the past they have fixed thermostats, repaired locks, and stopped faucets from dripping. Please get in your request for help ASAP. The phone number to call will be available when we arrive, or see the Planning Committee members. Note, repairs are only possible during regular work hours for the maintenance staff, Monday through Friday, 7:30 to 4:00 PM.

Printed Copies of Publications

If you want printed copies of Reports in Advance, OVYM Directory, or the Minutes from 2024 OVYM Annual Sessions, let our Administrative Assistant Susan Lee Barton know by filling out this form.

Susan Lee will bring these printed copies to annual sessions for pick up. If you need Advance mailed to you before sessions, request this sooner rather than later!

Schedule

Click here to download the full printable schedule.

The Zoom schedule can be found here.

Children’s and Youth Program Schedule

Click here to download the full printable schedule for children and youth. (Also includes some highlights for young adults.)

Young Adult Friends Program

The Opportunity is this summer!!! Young Adult Friends will have a nice group at OVYM this year! Comes join us!! Starting Thursday we will try to organize 2 activities/gatherings a day. There still is time for some input as to what we will do or if you would like more gatherings. This is your group let’s make it the best we can together.

Take a look at our Young Adult Program Schedule. Contact Uta Brewington on Facebook or email u-brewington@hotmail.com if you have questions or ideas.

Workshops

COME EARLY for a Pre-Session Earthcare Workshop
Wednesday, 1 – 2:45pm

Coming Alive – Deep Joy and the Heart of Earthcare

Join new Quaker Earthcare Witness (QEW) General Secretary Keith Runyan and our OVYM representative to the QEW Steering Committee, Allen McGrew, as we come together to tend our wounded relationships with Earth and one another through song, poetry, and a joy deeply rooted in the ever-unfolding Life of the Cosmos. In this time of deepening and well-founded environmental grief and anxiety we will experience together how living into deep relationship with each other and the Earth can transmute grief and anxiety into joyful purpose and community with the Web of Life. Participants are invited to bring with you a small talisman (a stone, a shell, a dried flower, a photograph of a cherished memory, or something else) that embodies your gratitude for the Living World and your hopes for future generations. Please arrive early. Teens welcome!

Keith Runyan is a Quaker changemaker, visionary, and activist born and raised in Pacific Yearly Meeting in Northern California. In 2018, Keith undertook a 12 day hunger strike while travelling in the ministry to bolster awareness and action on the climate crisis and environmental justice. Since that time, Keith has worked as an educator, activist-organizer, researcher, and podcaster - becoming sought after as a panelist and speaker in the West Coast Quaker World.

In his home life, Keith is a guitarist, singer, adventurer, and loving partner of his sweetie, Nora, and proud new father to baby Juniper.

Friday
1:45-3:15 pm

Jon Watts – Listening Each Other into Wholeness

When Jon Watts founded the QuakerSpeak video project in 2014, he had no experience as a professional videographer or interviewer. After the first few interviews went poorly, he had to go back to the drawing board, and began to rely on his training as a Quaker. In this workshop, we'll explore the lessons that Jon learned in 6 years of Quaker interviews–and how the quality of our listening can transform the message.

Phyllis Tonne – Deeper Joy through Writing Together

(also Hybrid offering)

Phyllis Tonne, member Dayton Friends Meeting and writing group members from Dayton Meeting will lead participants in an individual prompted writing session, and then sharing that writing (if desired) out of the silence, we will know ourselves and each other better. “Knowing better” is a sweet source of joy.

Ellen Hodge and Diann Herzog – Dance for Joy

Ellen Hodge and Diann Herzog are members of Fall Creek Meeting. While Diann is a bearer of joy, Ellen has to work at it. If you’re not feeling joy, dance can put you in touch with it. Or dance can help you express the joy you feel. We’ll learn one or two simple urban line dances. No prior experience necessary. If you can keep a beat and have a decent sense of balance, you can dance. Teens welcome!

Bruce Heckman – When Individual Behavior Harms the Meeting Community

Bruce is a Counselor/Therapist, Yellow Spring Friends Meeting and also a member of OVYM Religious Nurture and Education. He admits there is a struggle to connect this workshop to our theme of “Joy!” but the RNE Committee has been pulling us along through pain. Joy does not exist without this.

This workshop will explore:

  • the harmful effects that a troubled member or attender can have on a Meeting community
  • mental health and addiction problems especially challenging in Friends communities
  • when intervention to protect the community becomes necessary
  • what good Quaker process might look like when we seek to address problem behavior with love for both the individual and the Meeting community.

Saturday
1:45-3:15 pm

Rev. Rhetta Morgan – Building Our Sacred JOYFIRE!

(also Hybrid offering)

We will deepen into understanding and embodiment of JOYFIRE, by exploring joy as a foundational grounding principle.

We’ll share our stories of where and how joy has appeared in our lives, how joy has made a difference and what it will mean to have an ongoing relationship to joy.

We will bring to mind and heart the music, tools, and practices that led to joy. Teens welcome! (feel free to bring joy-filled songs on your device). Bring writing materials.

Megan Fair – Power of Enough

Megan is a member at Wilmington Monthly Meeting (OH), Wilmington Yearly Meeting and Engagement Catalyst at Right Sharing of World Resources (RSWR).

What is essential? How much is enough? How is my use of time, energy, and “things” in right balance to free me to do God’s work, and to contribute to right order in our world? Through personal reflection, discussion and worship sharing we will explore queries to discover our power of enough. Participants often find that a sense of gratitude and joy come with a deeper understanding of “what is enough” in our lives. When we are able to free ourselves from the extraneous things and commitments in our lives, we leave space for Spirit and joy. All ages welcome!

Michael Birkel – Spiritual Counsel from Early Friends

Michael is a member of Clear Creek M and has been reading and thinking about early Quaker texts for a long time. (He has also authored a number of books and articles about this!). Early Friends wrote letters of spiritual counsel. This workshop invites participants to a slow reading of some of them, savoring the wisdom offered. Some texts will speak of joy, the theme yearly meeting sessions. Teens welcome!

Allen McGrew – The Cosmic Journey: Or How to Build a Living Planet in 4.5 Billion Easy Steps

Join Al McGrew, field geologist and the OVYM Earthcare team on a walking meditation and celebration of this unimaginably ancient and yet forever young planet that we call home. Wear comfortable shoes, and bring a water bottle and your awe as we walk physically 1 – 2 miles through Richmond’s beautiful Whitewater Gorge and also imaginatively walk through 4.5 billion years of Earth history. Participants will need to wear comfortable shoes and bring a water bottle. Sun protection also encouraged. Teens welcome!

Worship Sharing Groups

Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings 8:45 to 9:45. Please see registration desk to sign up for a group. Three groups will have room assignments. There will be a group that meets outside (as much as possible). Another group will be on Zoom for virtual attendees. To those who have attended Worship Sharing in previous years, let all your Friends know the rich depth of sharing during this time. Queries will be centered around our theme.

Healing Center

We offer a space for Friends who want to gather to focus on healing – that means receive or give, although they flow into each other. Joy comes through healing. Healing is a part of many faith traditions, including vivid stories from early Quakers about their experiences. Sign up when registering to share your gifts at the Healing Center or contact Deborah Jordan (see below). In the past, we have had compassionate listeners, music and movement, yoga, foot massages, reiki, contemplative walks, and more. Those who work hard at Annual Sessions are most welcome as well to come for some respite and renewal. Young people are encouraged!

We have two Healing Center times scheduled in the Comstock Room:

  • Friday June 14th
  • Saturday June 15th, 4:30 to 5:30pm

Questions or thoughts, contact Deborah Jordan at djordan@fuse.net.

Interest Groups

Friends are invited to arrange interest groups or social activities of their choosing during the evening hours on Thursday and Friday nights after the Plenaries. If you have an interest group or activity idea you would like to do, ask the Planning Committee to find you a space. There will be sign up sheets at the registration table area. We can set up Zoom interest groups as well, please contact Ben Griffith. Let us know what you want to do

Meetings for Worship with Attention to Business 

Attending to business is at the heart of almost every gathering of Friends, and it is one of the ways we get to know each other in and through the Spirit. But attendance is not mandatory. To join in our Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business, come to the Hancock Room (see schedule for meeting times), and there you will find copies of the Reports in Advance. Check the (tentative) agenda just inside the front cover.  Zoom attenders will join us virtually with a hybrid set up so that we all see and hear each other. Your presence and your holding all in the Light is most welcome.

Working as a Volunteer with Children and Youth

OVYM welcomes volunteers! Please request a (or submit your recent) background check from our Administrative Assistant, Susan Lee Barton.

If possible, please attend the Wednesday afternoon Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training, 1:45 to 2:45. We cannot offer childcare during this training, so please arrange for your partner or a friend to keep any children in their care.

Anyone who is unable to complete this training will not be allowed to be alone with any children who are not in their household.